Zach Britton declines WBC invitation (and other notes)

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. - Orioles closer Zach Britton has declined an invitation from Joe Torre to pitch for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic.

zach-britton-in-white-close-Sidebar.pngBritton was flattered by the offer, but he wanted to spend more time with his family, including a 1-month-old daughter, according to Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette.

Duquette said he’s unaware of Mychal Givens’ reported interest in joining Team USA. He also confirmed that major league clubs are encouraged to send players, but no more than four. Givens could make five from the Orioles, including Adam Jones, Manny Machado, Jonathan Schoop and Hyun Soo Kim.

As the Winter Meetings draw to a close on Thursday morning, Duquette has shifted his focus to the free agent market. He talked trades with a few more clubs today and found the asking price too high in prospects.

Duquette again refused to state whether he met with Mark Trumbo’s representatives. However, he confirmed that catcher Matt Wieters remains on the club’s board. They haven’t moved on from him.

The refusal to consider free agent outfielder Jose Bautista remains a source of humor at the meetings. Duquette repeated that he told Bautista’s representatives that Orioles fans dislike the guy, labeling him a villain, and there won’t be any negotiations.

Asked whether he might be interested if the villain’s price drops, Duquette laughed and replied, “I’ll have to check with the fans.”

How scientific is this fan poll?

“I’ve just been watching the games,” he said.

The desire to improve pitching depth is centered more on the bullpen than the rotation, another sign that the Orioles are willing to trade a reliever. The Braves reportedly checked on Brad Brach, but they felt the Orioles wanted too much in return, beginning with outfielder Mallex Smith.

The Orioles will be active in the Rule 5 draft. They hold the 23rd pick in the first round, which could improve as other teams pass, and may attempt to move down again, as they did at the 2014 meetings to pick up pitcher Jason Garcia.

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